Many conversations are currently being initiated in and about Liberia, conversations which could potentially shake up the fabrics of our society.
So, in that light, here’s a little conversation starter.
Before we entered the depths of our just-ended electoral process, which I must say was absolutely one for the books, the conversation centered on fear, uncertainty, anger, and hope.
Fear and uncertainty because this time in all of our lives as Liberians was so crucial, thus leaving much pressure on our shoulders to make the right choice in the midst of different names emerging daily wanting to be the force behind the change the nation is craving.
We saw it in the speeches, the launches, and of course, the slogans. (“Change You Can Trust”, “The Real Change You Can Trust”, “Change for Hope”).
Change for hope was an interesting one for me. When I first read the phrase, I thought, “how bizarre, these pattern of words”. However, as time went on, the phrase coined by the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) began to sit with me.
In an incredibly sensitive nation like Liberia, hope is a very fragile element. We are a strong group of people, but…. we have had to deal with so much pain in our lives that sometimes its as if we know nothing else but.
How dense is resilience and strength when there is no hope?
Are we resilient in that we are strong enough to always be prepared to handle devastation or betrayal from our nation? Or, are we resilient in that we expect nothing but betrayal, lies, deceit, greed, and disappointment from our nation, so we remain prepared?.
I believe it is a little bit of both.
The choice seemed clear. A candidate, who can reignite hope in the hearts of the Liberian people, is a candidate who can bring true change and growth for the nation, as hope influences love and patriotism for one’s nation. So, when the CDC stated that they will bring the change required in restoring hope in our people, the nation decided to listen to what else they might have to say.
Now, why did we feel anger? The Liberian people have a lot to be angry about. Can you imagine what it means to have over 15 years of your life stagnant due to the tragic overthrow of law and order in your nation, resulting in living in a constant state of insecurity and fear, — to living through another 12 years of excruciatingly slow growth of said nation?
We only, on average, get about 60 years of life on earth, take away 27 of those years with no concrete change happening in your life besides the occasional eruption of ‘Stop’ signs here, and “Coming Soon” promises which never materializes. Of course you’d be angry too.
In not wanting to be misunderstood, I cannot honestly say out loud or to myself that the leadership of our former MADAME President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf did nothing for the Liberian people.
I, as a woman, have more ears on my voice than ever before, and I can now take a day’s drive home to Nimba County, with no infrastructural interruptions due to the great works carried out under the leadership of our Madame, and I most definitely already miss having a woman for a President. However, Change and more development is needed.
So, what do we mean when we speak of development for Liberia and her people?
Does what we crave mean more sky-scrapers, manufacturing companies, and less trees and virgin lands are in Liberia’s future?
Or does the development we crave mean the basic rights we deserve as citizens of this country will finally be provided for?
Rights like education, secure healthcare, respect of human rights, especially in the criminal justice system, and the laws protecting the rights and liberties of women, children, disabled, and all other marginalized groups within our societies will finally be both discussed and implemented?
We are all at the liberty to choose what development means to us individually, however, think critically and with acute judgement when making that decision.
With the end of the historic electoral processes, and even more historic Presidential Inauguration — as Liberia saw her first peaceful transition of power from one democratically elected leader to another in 70 years, a surreal day I still reminisce about even as I write this — we have now entered the beginning stages of Liberia under the Leadership of President George M. Weah, and Vice-President Jewel Howard-Taylor.
The election of this dynamic duo — the Soccer legend and beacon of hope for many Liberian youth, and the lady I like to refer to as “The Woman With a Plan” — has dawned a new era in the nation — An era of conversations like Non-Black and dual citizenship in Liberia, the importance and relevance of education among our population, and various analysis as to what type of development the nation truly needs. Interesting times we are in.
And then we have hope. I remember what I felt the moment I stepped foot onto the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex on Monday Januray 22, 2018, to bear first-hand witness to the inauguration of President George M. Weah.
I felt hope. I saw hope. I heard it in the beat of drums as our traditional men and women danced happy and well-wishing dances. I felt it in the movements of their feet majestically on the grounds, hips swaying left to right. I heard it in the commanding and declarative nature in which the performing choirs sang, poets read, crowds screamed, and newly inaugurated President, Weah, spoke. Hope was alive and well in the air.
In these days following that surreal moment, the decisions taken now by President Weah, and the sincere work ethic exerted by his appointees to serve the nation is truly critical.
It is important all of these individuals serving the state and its people serve us with every ounce of honor they have.
We as the Liberian people deserve nothing but. The hope lingering in the hearts of our people must be materialized into optimism, so as to acquire an “all hands on deck” mentality when discussing and working together for the development of our nation.
We have finally given President George Weah the power to be the leader of the change we desire for our nation, so it is now important that this promised change we have succumbed to yields tangible results and restores hope back in our hearts.
Mr. President, the ball is now in your side of the field; please make sure to execute the same passionate and tenacious zeal you exerted in 1995, which resulted in your historic win of the World Best Title, as we need now more than ever, an Africa’s Best President.
Adrienne Tingba, Contributing Writer